It is so easy to dismiss a child’s message. My kids talk endlessly. Any hint I may be distracted it’s “mom, mom, mom” in three, by each one, and there are three!
I have mom ptsd to the point that I answer to any call – mom! I sort of feel giddy when I respond “yes” and it’s not my kid – yeah – someone else gets this call.
When I had three kids in 4 years, 4 surgeries in 5 years, caring for my sick step grandfather, remodeling the house we were to live in, managing 10 of our rentals and working full time (60 hours plus a week – 7 days a week) and still nursing and co-sleeping…. I found it extremely challenging to tune into small things with the children.
At age 4, one ended up in a coma and almost died. Trauma melts away distraction and brings focus to what really matters.
Many parents have full plates like this. We live on fumes. One day when I recognized “mom,mom,mom” was a way for them to help me stay present. Kids are totally in the present. They see we are distracted (on the phone) and that is precisely when they will call us – back to the present.
Instead of irritation, I began to recognize their message of the presence. I forced myself to stop what I was doing and tune into their needs.
It actually improved my efficiency at work. It made them feel as though they were more important than my work. It helped teach me to stay in the now.
Ironically all three of our children are extremely independent and at a very young age. They cook, clean and do laundry because if they want something they just go do it.
I made so many mistakes. I did a lot of ignoring, and frustrated outbursts, before I got to this place of understanding. I was wound too tight; like a rubber band always ready to snap. When it does, it hurts.
The point for me is that we keep at it. We don’t apologize as parents and continue on the same way. We amend our behavior, and grow, so our children have a model of how change is possible.
We also allow space for them to tell us how we showed up for them. It is painful to sit and listen without defensiveness. If we can’t listen, then how can we expect them to open up to us about bigger things? When those teenage years hit, how will they trust us with their secrets when we’ve proven we can’t hear their small hurts?
When I see one of our children pull back, it does not mean they are personally rejecting me. It means they have some stuff going on. My job is to forever be the observer and to make every effort to never make it about me!
This is hard. This requires a lot of work on our own healing and self confidence as a parent. Hats off to those single dads!
Almost everything I learned as a parent was from suffering. Suffering the consequences of mistakes which motivated me to find a different way. I chose to recognize my children are wonderful, it is me that needs some major work.
So whenever we are stuck, I think what in me needs to change. It’s tough work. Funny thing is, whenever I have a break through, our relationship totally shifts.
When I make it about “their problem” or “what they have done to ME” it’s a downward spiral. There is a sort of detachment with love, a constant internal monitoring and a deep desire to walk through the dark spaces within me so that I can be the clearest channel of light and love for them.
It also empowers me to recognize as they turn into those teen years, to stand firm when they try and blame shift. I remind them of their own choices and how with freedom comes ownership. Just as I get no free pass on excuses, neither do they.
We all get the lesson of taking responsibility for our pieces.
This is simple work in my mind because I evolved through stages. In writing about it, it occurs to me the topic is worthy of a longer piece, complete with specific workbooks, situational exercises and tools. I want to work on this and will.
In the meantime, the easiest thing to do is be the witness to what you think, say and do. Question every thought. Question every action. Ignore the negatives you see in any situation. Only look for and comment on the positives. Do this for three days and magically the world will become a more beautiful place.
The children, depending on their age, will immediately respond and it will nourish their positivity. They in turn will expand their love toward you. Suffering will ease up and it all happens by making a choice to shift thoughts!
Amazing how his process works. It works. My heart and life are full of joy. I give myself permission to make mistakes and to be human. I have the tenacity and emotional maturity to stick with processes that are super uncomfortable. As a result my training has been fast tracked. I’m on a totally different dimension. It is wonderful. Life is easier because I’ve accepted its unfair harshness.
This work can be applied to any relationship. We all have ‘children’; those people who look to us for emotional support. By working on our own emotional intelligence we can help others evolve by our own example.
It is always a choice, our choice, how we want to show up in the world. Am I willing to show up differently just for today?